Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Goa's Mining Undermining Goans!

In Goa, mining is seen to take place with large scale environmental
degradation violating all human rights. Multidimensional approach i.e.
denial of the eligible rights of the people in mining zones, flouting of law
by the State machinery & mine owners and denial of mineworkers rights that
is followed in Goa for mining industry compounds the problem still further.
Due to which, almost every day Goans from in and around mining areas are
seen agitating against mining came on streets.

Goa government after two years of mass agitation has now come up with mine
owners' friendly draft Mining Policy for Goa! Apart from permitting mining
near the state's wildlife sanctuaries and legalizing other non-operative
dormant leases issued during Portuguese regime, the said draft mining
policy of Goa has retained many flows, as in the past, which are
non-compliant with many prevailing Acts of government of India.

As far as mining in Goa is concerned, mine owners in connivance with
government of Goa appears to have violated and are violating following basic

Constitutional Rights - under Fundamental Rights: Article 19; (i), (f) -
Right to acquire, preserve and transfer the property, Article 21 - Right to
live and livelihood.

Directive Principles of State Policy: Article 38 - Assures the protection of
the social order and promotion of welfare of the people; Article 39 (a) -
Right to earn a dignified livelihood; Article 39 (b) - The State shall in
particular direct its policy towards securing - that the ownership and
control of the material resource of the community are so distributed as best
to sub-serve the common good; that the operation of the economic system does
not result in the concentration of the wealth and means of production to the
common detriment; Article 46 - The State shall promote..the SCs / STs, and
shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation;
Article 47 - Duty of the state to develop the standard of living of the
people; Article 48 - To protect agriculture and animal resource; Article 51
A (g), (i) - It is the fundamental duty of every citizen of India - to
protect the natural environment including forest, lakes, river and wild

In addition to above, mining in forest areas grossly violates major
provisions under the National Forest Policy 1988 such as Sections 2.1, 2.2,
3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 3.5, 4.3, 4.4, 4.6, and 4.9.

All provisions with regards to the Scheduled Area Act as well as the
provisions under the Panchayat Raj Act are grossly violated. In Section 4
(a) it clearly states, "a state legislation on the panchayats that may be
made shall be in consonance with the customary law, social, and religious
practices and traditional management practices of community resource".
Further Section 4 (b) says, "every gram sahbha shall be competent to
safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the people, their
cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute

The Scheduled Area Act or the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Area Act
(PESA) is one powerful weapon in fighting unjust mining. To compound the
complications further is gross irregularity and corruptions in granting the
mining lease are involved.

Despite of India having best of the Acts gross irregularities and
corruptions at highest & lowest level in government departments are granting
mining leases left, right and center. This has resulted in displacement,
migration, socio-cultural and environmental impacts in the areas surrounding
mining areas. These nonreversible impacts have widened the gap between the
rich and poor even in rural areas. While Goa government appears to have
turned into a repressive tool in the hands of the corporate sectors,
particularly the mining companies, imposing anti-people laws and polices on
the people.

The developed attitude of the state government towards mining sector clearly
shows its withdrawal from welfare responsibilities. The ruling government is
also seen to operate as a string-puppet with the corporate sector holding
its strings. The trust of the disinherited is further shattered and disowned
by the disingenuous attitude of the government. In many cases even the
highest offices of the CM, and the Governor closed their eyes only to remain
disabled to use their prerogative powers only to give an impetus to the
mining companies to capitalize the situation and overthrow the people's

Considering what's going on in Goa's mining areas its time for Goans to
fight for themselves and maintain checks on mining activities. Goans also
need to be extra vigil in lodging their formal protest(s) for
non-compliances' left within draft mining policy of Goa before the draft
becomes an Act to act against Goans.

Best regards,

Dr. U. G. Barad

As circulated on Goanet mailing list on August 23 2009

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